Unpacking the BAG

Recently we have explored setting a Big Audacious Goal (BAG). A BAG should be so large that it seems almost unachievable at first. However with planning and perseverance anything is possible. Today we will unpack our BAG to see what smaller achievable goals are inside and then continue to break these smaller goals down until we have a list of bit sized steps. 

We will start by looking at a BAG and pulling out the goals which are written within it. For this example, I will be using my BAG but encourage you to follow along with your own. 

BAG: I will open an ecotherapy center (1) that offers a variety of mental wellness services that integrate traditional practices as well as nature assisted therapies. It will provide out-patient (2)partial hospitalization (3), and residential programs (4) as well as consultations (5) and programs for the general public (6) 

As I begin to unpack my BAG I am able to identify six goals that are stated within it. 

  1. open an ecotherapy center 
  2. out-patient mental wellness services 
  3. partial hospitalization mental wellness services 
  4. residential mental wellness services 
  5. consulting 
  6. public programs 

Looking at these six goals, they are still rather big, but as individual goals they are not as audacious. In order to make progress to these goals they need to be broken down even further into the smaller goals that must first be achieved to reach the bigger goal. So let’s breakdown one of these goals further. 

To provide out-patient mental wellness services I need to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. I am planning to remain in Florida so the goals I have listed within this goal are linked to the Florida licensure requirements. These goals include: 

  • Graduate from a masters level mental health counseling program that is accredited by CACREP (In Progress
  • Complete 1500 Face to Face and 100 supervision hours as a Registered Intern 
  • Pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination 
  • Complete the Rules & Laws Course (8 hours) 
  • Complete the HIV/AIDS Course (3 hours) 
  • Complete the Domestic Violence Course (2 hours) 

While these seem much more reachable they could be separated into even further, smaller goals, such as the course work required to obtain the masters degree and then even further into the tasks and assignments within each course. Each person’s need to break down their goals into bite sized bites will vary and for spoonies, like myself (there will be a post about spoonies in the future), sometimes we need to break our list all the way down to each tiny step. Stephen Duneier explains it while in his TedX Talk when he breaks down his goal to hike 33 trails down to each and every action, including putting down the remote. 

Writing this post in just one of the tiny steps I take on my journey to reach my BAG. What is one of the steps you are taking to reach your BAG? Share it in the comments and subscribe to my blog for more content to help you live with mental wellness on your journey.  

Building Your BAG

When on a journey it is helpful to identify your destination. Now, we know, not all that wander are lost, but hopefully those who wander are not doing so aimlessly. In this post we will look a way to define your goal and not just any goal but your Big Audacious Goal (BAG)! 

First let me remind you what is a Big Audacious Goal is. I introduced the concept of a BAG in the post “Achieving Goals is in the BAG“. It came from Jerry Linenger, who at age 10 decided that he was going to be an astronaut. He created a plan so that he knew what he needed to do to achieve this BAG, and he did. A BAG should not be a small, quickly achievable task. Rather it should be a huge guiding force that drives your smaller goals, such as your five- and ten-year goals. Yes, those should be small compared to your BAG. 

If you were to Google “how to write a goal” the top results all explore SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Based. While SMART provides an excellent formula for shorter term goals, it is won’t work for a BAG with some modifications. Your BAG should make others questions how realistic (or achievable) it really is and its success should not be tied to a timeline (time-based). So let’s dive in into our twist on SMART! I encourage you to start by writing down your first draft of BAG and make edits as we go, mine will be noted in italics. 

I will open an ecotherapy center that offers a variety of mental wellness services that integrate traditional practices as well as nature assisted therapies. It will provide out patient, partial hospitalization, and residential programs as well as consultations and programs for the general public.  


Your BAG should be clear and specific. Avoid generalizations like “I want to make a difference.” Instead thinks about how you would make a difference. Do you want to start a business, provide a service, or share information?  


Can you track your progress toward this goal? How will you know when you have accomplished your goal? If you cannot see your growth you are likely to lose focus. 

Opening a business that offers specific services is both specific and measurable. Progress toward it can be easily tracked and I will know when I have arrived. 


Given enough passion, and perseverance anything is possible. Your BAG should not be easily achievable however, it should make others doubt your aim.  

Some people think I am a little crazy and my goal is way too ambitious.  Others, those who have taken the time to really get to know me, know that I will be successful. 


Does this goal provide you a sense of purpose? It must be relevant to you and insight a passionate fire inside you. This fire is what will drive you forward. 

I have personally learned to live despite some awful life experiences. I would not be alive and productively functioning without access to quality mental health services and a supportive community. I want to build a place that provides these very things for others. 

Can you achieve this goal in the next few years? Yes? Reach higher! Your BAG should not be an easy target and therefore don’t tether yourself to a strict deadline. We will work to develop a plan that will gives some clues to a timeline but this should be such a large goal that it will take ten or more years of work. 

In order to achieve my goal I need to accomplish many smaller goals. In the next five-years I will have made considerable gains, in ten-years even more, but in order to build up the facility I am aiming for it will take much longer. 

How does your BAG hold up? Is it SMART enough? Share your BAG in the comments below and make sure you subscribe to my blog. In the next post in this goal setting series we will dive into breaking our BAG down to see what’s inside and begin planning out our journey. 

Achieving Goals is in the BAG!

Newton’s first law of motion tells us that an object in motion stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an outside force. This law also applies to human motivation! When vast numbers of people were setting their New Year’s resolutions I was already rolling and then an outside force brought me to a sudden stop. This force was Covid-19. I was fiercely trotting along, checking off the small objectives that were leading me toward my dreams and just like that everything hit a bump. Switching from the routine that I had finally gotten down to working remotely, learning remotely, and living remotely brought me to a halt. My depression and anxiety took over. I was successfully going through the motions but did not feel like I was moving forward. One of the motions I was maintaining was reading each night to settle my mind from the quarantine chaos of the day.  

I was reading, Now What?: A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future by Brian Ursu, CFP, when I was reminded of why I felt so lost.

Carefully nestled between chapters about buying and house and having children is advice on how to “Have a Plan”. While the underlying message is about how to develop a plan to save money, it can be applied to any aspect of life. Ursu introduces a concept that he learned about in Jerry Linenger‘s Book Off the Planet

Linenger talks about setting a big, audacious goal (BAG). A BAG is not your typical goal, or your 5-year plan. Your BAG rather is an incredibly long-term goal, something that in ten years you will still be working toward. I had lost sight of my BAG! I was taking things minute by minute and forgot where I was heading and why. Did I have a BAG? Absolutely! I just didn’t have it written down. 

It feels really corny at first writing down a personal goal for some reason, I am not sure why, it is a well-worn business practice. Every successful business has a plan and you should too. An article published on the Psychology Today website cites a 2015 study by Gail Matthews that says people who write down their goals reach them 33% more often than those who don’t. Forbes also backs them up saying that through the process of generating a visual representation you form a stronger memory and therefore increase your chances of success. So, I have started just that, building a visual representation of my BAG.   

This is the first of a series of blogs I will be writing about goal setting and more importantly, goal achieving. I encourage you to subscribe to my blog, not to watch my progress, but to make your own.  

What’s my BAG? I will open an eco-therapy center that offers a variety of mental wellness services that integrate traditional practices as well as nature assisted and creative therapies. It will provide out patient, partial hospitalization, and residential programs as well as consultations and programs for the general public. Does this aspiration make you think I’ve gone off the deep end with hope? Good that’s how big a BAG should be! See my BAG Vision Board and share yours with me!

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Bibliotherapy- The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose

Title: The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose 

Author: Chris Wilson 

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir 

Length: 414 Pages 

Publish Date: 2019 

Tags/Triggers: abuse, addiction, alcohol, bullying, cancer, child abuse, death, domestic violence, drugs, emotional abuse, incarceration, murder, physical abuse, rape, self-harm, terminal illness, violence 

Growing up in Chris Wilson witnessed things no child should ever see. His mother was brutalized and descended into addiction. The neighborhood around him became a war zone and he saw people he loved gunned down. After a while he felt like he choices were fight or die. Then one night he did just that and ended up with a life sentence for murder.  

He was very fortunate to be placed at the prison in Patuxent where the youth inmates were housed separate from the adults. Patuxent also had unique opportunities for offenders to participate in educational programs and counseling. Access to this program allowed Chris is being to heal and formulate his master plan. This master plan answered his burning question, “What’s your endgame?” Even behind bars with a life sentence all people wonder why they are here, on this planet. 

Chris’s plan began as a bucket list filled with experiences such as “grow a big-ass beard” and attending a bull fight. As he continued to heal and learn his plan evolved and became much more purposeful. Even before he could see light at the end of the tunnel he found light in his life through purpose. He worked incredibly hard without the promise of external pay off just “positive delusions”. His hard work eventually did lead to the opportunity of reward and turned his delusions to reality.  

With the support of caring people around him he managed to get his sentence reduced. He was one of the few to reap rehabilatative benefits from his time in prison. When he earned his release he continued to work hard and give back. He has devoted his life outside to helping keep others out. He has developed systems and supports to improve the culture of the neighborhoods that traditionally acting as pathways to prison.  

The Master Plan: My Journey from Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose was an amazing read that was hard to set down. It is a stark reminder of the deep deficits that plague our country. There are huge inequalities that must be addressed and Chris Wilson is working to do just that. His actions should not end with him but should rather act to inspire and influence others to make positive changes.   

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Bibliotherapy- Rebuilding Sergeant Peck: How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan

Title: Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan 

Author: John Peck, Dava Guerin, and Terry Bivens 

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir 

Length: 216 Pages 

Publish Date: 2019 

Tags/Triggers: Mental Health, Military Service, Suicidal Ideation, Physical Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury 

Born in 1985 to a single mom, John Peck was destined for military service. Throughout his childhood he remained resilient despite repeated physical and emotional abuse, family financial struggles and homelessness. However, he continued to persevere and achieve his dreams. In 2005, Peck joined the Marines. Little did he know just how much it would change his life, in ways he could never have imagined.  

Not long after enlisting, Lance Corporal Peck was sent on his first deployment to Iraq. There he spent his time patrolling the area in order to network with the locals and complete searches to gather intelligence on terrorist cells. During one of these patrols his vehicle rolled over a pressure plate triggering an improvised explosive device (IED).This incident resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that promptly ended his deployment and nearly ended his military career. 

The TBI that Lance Corporal Peck received caused much more than just momentary confusion. He spent years undergoing evaluations and rehabilitation to learn how to live with the resulting memory and motor damage. With lots of hard work and support, he was able to prove that he was still capable of being a fully functioning Marine with minimal accommodations. In 2009, he reenlisted with the hope of once again being deployed and a year later was sent to Afghanistan.  

On May 24th John stepped squarely on the missed device and instantly lost both legs and his right arm. While his left arm was still attached, it was severely injured which would eventually result in it too being surgically removed. 

John spent months being stabilized. Every conscious moment, he begged the medical staff to let him die. Between the pain and reality of his new disability he could not imagine there was any purpose in his life. It wasn’t until he witnessed others overcoming similar injuries and living fulfilling lives that he began to see a future for himself as well.  

He began to build his network of support, and the more people he connected with the more meaning he saw in his life. When he realized that leaving his darkness behind was helping others do the same, he became even more motivated to regain his independence. As he began to be an active participant in his treatment, he earned a new rank: Sergeant. In this leadership role, he reflected on all the trauma he had overcome thus far and was determined to dig within himself and awaken that same perseverance and resilience he’d had as a child. John began to advocate for himself and take his new challenges head on, leading to his to becoming the first successful recipient of a double arm transplant. 

Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan reminds us that despite the complexities that come with managing disabilities everyone is capable of living a fulfilling and purposeful life. It is a great read for anyone facing challenges in their lives be they physical, such as the loss of a limb, or mental, such as depression and anxiety. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an inspirational page turner. “Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan” challenged me to look for opportunities for growth within problems I experience and to recognize that life is more than the events that make it up. It is okay to feel despair in the face of suffering, yet remember that it is only a part of your story. Life doesn’t always happen the way we expect, and living with that uncertainty is something we all have face.  

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